Small World continued--

From 1975-1989, I was an Auditor for Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority. And I took many trips that were scheduled for me because of that position. And invariably, wherever I went, I would end up meeting someone that I had met/known previously. And my Finance Director would always chide me about “do you know everyone from the south?”

This one particular NAHRO convention that I attended in DC was held at the J.W. Marriott, corner of Pennsylvania and 14th , I believe it was. Just across the corner from the Willard House. We flew up on a Saturday to do some sightseeing and got settled in before the conferences began. My director had asked me, “Charlene, think you’ll know anyone here in Washington?” I told her, “I didn’t think so…but I could call a cousin who lived in Silver Spring, MD and he would probably show up. “

A couple of days went by and all the required conferences had been attended and we were standing outside the elevators to go up to our rooms . The doors to that elevator opened and “lo and behold”…my eyes caught sight of some name tags that said “LaFollette, TN”. Well, you know what I did. I yelled “hold the door, hold the door”. And at the same time, I told my director, I’ll meet you on the concierge level after I see who these folks are. I jumped on that elevator and I said, “Now I’m from LaF originally and just what are your names?” Well, there was Hodge Stanfield, Joe Carson, Bill Kincaid, and Mayor Curt Alley (and there may have been one or two more, I can‘t recall). And they were representing the LaFollette Housing Authority. We hurriedly discussed what their next conference was and “bam!!” it coincided with mine. So we made plans to sit at the same table and discuss who was who. Of course, I had heard all the names before and of course, they knew my Dad and Mom.

After the last conference, a congressional party was to be held for all attendees…and each state had their own little section. Well, naturally, I had to introduce my director and our DMHA attendees to those from LaF. So we marched around the room until we found Tennessee . I introduced them and the first thing out of my director’s mouth was, “Do you know this girl knows everyone below the Mason-Dixon Line.” We all had a great time and of course, it was a pleasure to meet folks from LaFollette.

We had a little old man who was a commissioner on our Board of Directors. He had to be in his mid 80s at that time. We kept him and the rest of our party up till 5 a.m. laughing, telling jokes, dancing. And we had a “finale” meeting at 9 a.m. Guess who didn’t keep that 9 a.m. meeting. I barely could drag myself out of the bed to pack for the trip back. Then we get to lobby to check out….and guess what!!! The Washington Redskins had won the Super Bowl, they were giving them a parade and all streets were blocked and no taxis could pick us up at the hotel. We had to use one of the carts and push and pull our luggage up 14th a couple blocks to F or G Streets. Being a bunch of women, we would push and pull for a while…then stand with our legs crossed (you women know why we had to cross our legs)..while we laughed uproariously. We finally got a taxi to take us to National where we had time to eat breakfast. Well, I got that breakfast under my belt…and we went to the boarding area to wait for our plane.

I shoved everything under my seat and made a pillow out of my coat and told them to wake me when it was time to take off. I think we had about an hour’s wait….just long enough for a good nap. Seems as if I’d just gone to sleep when I was awakened. Time to go!!! Well, I was ready…I stood up, grabbed my coat and got on that plane. And went back to sleep. The pilot’s announcement that we would be landing in Dayton in about 30 minutes woke me up. I started looking for my purse. No purse. I asked one of the girls who was sitting with me, “Barb, do you happen to have my purse?” We looked around…no purse. I hurriedly called an attendant and I said please go ask those in Row J if they have my purse. No one had it. And by now I’m really sweating it. I had all the advance expense monies in that purse!!!!

The attendant said let me call the terminal in Washington and see if they have found it. Oh my God!!! It was there. So as soon as I got off the plane, I raced to the terminal desk and asked if they could fly my purse in on the next plane. They confirmed it was there…and said sure. We will have it here about 11 p.m. tonight.

Of course, when I was dropped off at home, I had to tell my husband I left my purse in Washington and it’s got all the money in it, and the attendant called and said it was in Washington and they’d fly it to Dayton….on and on….all in one breath. He looked at me like I was brainless and said “Would you mind going through that again?” So I did and I told him, you have to take me back to Cox International tonight to pick up my purse. He then informed me, “We have an ice storm coming in….and you want me to take you back to Vandalia tonight.” .

I finally sweet-talked him into driving me there in that sleet and ice…took us a couple of hours, just to find out, they hadn’t put it on that plane but it would be in the next morning. He had a few choice words for both me and the carrier…and we went back home….me with my head hanging low.

I didn’t sleep too good that night…and of course, the first thing I had to report the next morning at work was about my purse and the funds being in Washington, DC. Thank goodness a couple hours later, the carrier called me on the job and told me, “Ma’am your purse is awaiting you at the terminal”. I flew up 75N to the airport…checked my purse…and wonder of all wonders…all my money was still there, all my credit cards, everything was just as it was.

You talk about one thankful person…that was me. Of course, my director had to tell everyone (in a joking way), “Guess what, you’re never going to believe this!!! Charlene found some old friends in Washington”.